Monday, October 28, 2013

The Mixed (Candy?) Bag That Is Halloween

My Diva wearing Junior's Halloween costume
So the biggest holiday outside of Christmas is three days away: Halloween, that formerly pagan celebration where parents spend mucho dinero on costumes the wee folk will wear for one day so they can go door-to-door begging for candy. I used to get really excited by it, but after spending 13 years of this celebration as a parent, I'm getting a bit weary. I mean, how much candy do kids really need?

The first Halloween we owned our house, I arrived home at about 5:30pm and was just getting out of my car when I heard a cry in the street: “She's home! Get her!” I looked up to find a gang of about eight kids, in costume, running down the hill toward me, their goodie bags open expectantly. I quickly hightailed it into the house and had about a minute before eight little fists began impatiently banging on the door. Talk about a Halloween haunting!

Maybe that's why I feel so ambivalent about Halloween. While I'm delighted that my children have so much fun dressing up and foraging for sugar, there are aspects of the holiday I'm not so keen on.  All of the comparing, for example.  Who has the “better” costume? Who gets the most candy? Who gives out the best candy? Who went out the longest? Which neighborhoods have the best houses from which to score the most/best candy? Why can't they just, as the kindergarteners used to chant, “get what we get and not get upset”?  Also, there is often an appalling lack of manners in the kids who come to my door.  Unless the kids are little with parents behind them prompting, I get a lot of kids at my door who don't even say “thank-you” for the candy I hand them. When I take my daughter out, if I don't hear her give thanks at every door, we stop and review. 

And there's the grossness of some decorations.  I blogged some time ago about how I didn't appreciate how graphic some of my neighbors made their Halloween decorations. They put out some realistic depictions of dismembered bodies that little ones found horribly scary and repulsed me. While I appreciate “freedom of expression,” I also think common sense is in order and wish people would refrain from displaying stuff that scars little kids. And to those who commented on that post that I need to “lighten up” on this attitude, please  list your phone number so that those parents whose toddlers are up at midnight, screaming because of the display on your lawn, might call and keep you up the way the memories of your display are keeping their kids up.

Still, Halloween is fun. Many of the costumes are cute and clever and it's adorable seeing the kids scamper up and down my block with looks of absolute joy on their faces. Then there's the post-trick-or-treating candy negotiations.  When my daughter was a toddler, before she could even read the words on the candy labels, she held her own as she and her brother gleefully surveyed their loot and then traded for whichever candy each liked best. My favorite part of Halloween is, of course, after the kids are asleep and I get to raid their stashes for Snickers or Butterfingers bars. 

No, the kids don't need candy. But in this day and age when kids are being forced to grow up so fast and when they're all virtually addicted to video screens, it's nice that they can have one day of wild abandon when they can just run around and be children. My weariness doesn't matter; those negative aspects of the holiday are purely my issues. One day in the not-to-distant future, I'll be one of those older people who smiles wistfully at the little skeletons and witches at my door, remembering my own wee folk at that age.  is Halloween is truly for the kids. I hope yours have a happy, happy day!


Thank you for reading!  Come again, won't you?

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